Province govts divided over insurgency-era land deals

Published On: April 13, 2018 06:00 AM NPT By: Devendra Basnet & Ganesh BK

DANG/  RUKUM, April 13: At a time when the CPN (Maoist Center) is pressing to legalize decisions taken by the 'people's government' during the Maoist armed insurgency, including the validation of land transactions, the issue has sharply divided the provincial governments of Karnali Province and Province 5. 

After the Maoists launched their armed insurgency in 1996, people living in  areas controlled by the rebels had no way of visiting  government land revenue offices to register  land transactions. They had no choice but to  register their land transactions with the Maoist-run parallel governments, which  distributed their own land ownership certificates to the buyers.

However, after the end of the decade-long insurgency, the law of the land refused to recognize the land ownership certificates issued by the Maoists. This encouraged  people who had sold their land  through the parallel governments to reclaim the  land, arguing that it still legally belonged to them . These claims  have resulted in many families becoming displaced and homeless.

The Supreme Court, ruling on a writ petition relating to such transactions, ruled that the  land-related decisions taken by the Maoist 'people's governments' during the armed insurgency are illegal.

But with the Maoists a now a partner in the central and provincial governments, their party is in favor of giving legal recognition to land transactions effected during the armed insurgency. 

“We will include legalization of the land transactions while drafting laws,” said Province 5 Minister for Internal Affairs and Law Kul Prasad KC  . “Land validation will get legal reorganization as per the law. There is no alternative,” he added.

However, provincial assembly members from the ruling coalition CPN-UML are against legalizing such transactions. Province 5 Minister for Physical Planning and Infrastructure Baijanath Chaudhary, who is also spokesperson for the provincial government, said legalization of land transactions effected by the rebel parallel governments is out of the question.

“I don't know why Minister KC thinks it is possible to draft laws recognizing insurgency-era land transactions. All  I can say is  the provincial government cannot draft law  legalizing the decisions of the then people's government,” said Minister Chaudhary. 

“If one is to validate decisions taken by the people's government, we will have to be ready to validate decisions that may be taken by other self-styled governments that may come into existence in future,” he further argued. “For instance, the Biplav-led CPN is taking various decisions in various districts that are under their influence. Are we to give legal recognition to their decisions as well?”

Minister Chaudhary further said, “It is beyond the competence of provincial governments to create laws and  legalize the decisions of a party-based self-styled government.”

Jajarkot, Salyan, Rukum and Rolpa are the districts where the maximum number of land transactions took place under the  rebel parallel governments.  Rukum is the most affected, with around 4,000 land transactions effected by the then rebels. Currently, over 50 percent of lands transactions in Rukum  are still stuck in  controversy.  

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